Having a high quality floor in your distribution centre or warehouse is critical to the overall efficient operation of the facility. The floor is the working surface on which a warehouse operator runs its business. No other part of the facility will have such an impact on the cost effective and efficient storage and movement of goods. Also no other part of the facility is subject to so much wear and tear.
Despite all of this, the floor is often not considered by the warehouse owner in any detail, in fact it is often assumed that the floor is one of the simplest parts of the structure to construct. This often leads to an underestimation of the floor design and construction requirements. You can spend all you want on the latest state of the art Materials Handling Equipment (MHE) and racking systems but if the floor is not right you are wasting your money. The MHE will not perform as designed and the storage system is not utilised to its full potential.
A correctly specified, well designed and constructed concrete floor will contribute to the operation of the logistics facility in many positive ways:-
• An increase in productivity and pallet throughput.
• A reduction in maintenance costs of the facility.
• A reduction in maintenance costs of the MHE.
• An increase in safety and morale of the warehouse staff.
Unfortunately for various reasons the Specification and Design of warehouse floors in China is often driven by materials suppliers, even occasionally by flooring equipment suppliers. Clearly this is never going to lead to a cost effective flooring solution. A high quality floor does not necessarily need to be an expensive one if a modern approach is taken.
The Modern Approach to Warehouse Flooring
Successful concrete floor projects are the result of an integrated and detailed planning process that focuses on the actual or anticipated use of floor and the facility. A flooring specification should be based on the owner’s or end user’s specific requirements whilst the floor design should be based on performance. Rather than allow material suppliers to lead the specification, flooring consultants who specialise in and have an understanding of logistics facilities are available and aim to provide high quality flooring at cost effective prices. The steps in a modern approach to warehouse flooring should include:-
1. Understanding the Use of the Floor and the owner/ operators needs and concerns.
2. Correctly Specifying the Performance Criteria for the floor including Floor Flatness and Abrasion Resistance.
3. Structural Design of the Slab – consideration of loading from racking and MHE, ground conditions, slab support, slab thickness, concrete and reinforcement.
4. Detailed Design of the Slab – consideration of joint layout and design, type of reinforcement – attention to detail is critical.
5. Selection of Floor Construction Method – many solutions are available depending on flatness and construction programme requirements.
6. Good Planning between all parties involved in the floor’s end use or construction to ensure that the correct solution has been selected and that the site conditions are suitable.
7. The floor construction should be carried out by an experienced and Specialist Concrete Flooring Contractor – preferably one with an understanding of warehouse floor requirements and a proven track record.
8. Compliance Testing to check that the required Floor Flatness or Abrasion Resistance Specification has been achieved – important if the owner has specific requirements or just wants to ensure value for money.
9. Maintenance must be considered immediately from the start of the operations, wear and tear on the floor is unavoidable.
Following these simple steps will ensure that the warehouse owner receives a floor that is ‘Fit for Purpose’ and Cost Effective – not just during construction but in the long term operation of the facility.
As a globally recognised expert in the measurement and control of industrial concrete floors, Face Consultants Ltd is an independent UKAS accredited testing organisation with operations worldwide and main offices in the UK, mainland Europe, Middle East, Asia, Australasia and Africa. Face Consultants are involved in over 5 million square metres of warehouse flooring every year globally, use the latest in digital measuring equipment, designed and built in-house, and have been active in Asia since 1993. In response to demands for Face services in the region, Face Consultants China was established in 2010 to provide expertise which includes the following core services:-
• Structural slab design & design reviews.
• Warehouse floor consultancy services including condition surveys and due diligence.
• Floor flatness testing – to all commonly used global standards.
• Abrasion Resistance Testing
Senior Engineers and Consultants of Face Consultants play a major role in trade associations and in the working parties for various warehouse flooring specifications and standards throughout the world, including the latest Concrete Society’s Technical Report 34 4th Edition, a guide to design and construction of concrete industrial ground floors. Therefore its reputation as one of the world’s leading experts in warehouse flooring is fully justified and Face Consultants is uniquely placed to provide a complete range of technical services to its global and local clients in China.
Recent work completed in China includes design review, development of standard flooring specifications and condition surveys for a leading global developer of logistics property, floor flatness testing and supervision of remedial work for a major global pharmaceutical company and floor flatness testing for one of the world’s largest furniture retailers.www.face-consultants.com.cn